“There’s been a lot of talk about the second-screen experience,” says Google product VP Mario Queiroz, referring to the devices viewers turn to while watching TV. “We haven’t implemented a second-screen experience just to be able to say we’ve done it. When does it make sense for a [Google TV] user to have his or her tablet, or phone, or computer?”
Or futuristic eyewear? That’s the question I posed to Queiroz, who oversees the company’s TV projects. Several weeks ago, the search giant launched the latest version of Google TV, an upgrade that focuses on simplifying television navigation with voice interactions, a streamlined user interface, and an experience that makes the television service feel more TV than PC. In fact, Queiroz has pushed some of the more complicated parts of the system off to second-screen devices–where users can, say, select YouTube videos to watch on the big screen from their smartphones and tablets. But what if Google Glass, the company’s buzzy computer-eyewear project, were integrated with Google TV?
“Uh, I can’t comment on that,” says Queiroz, sounding slightly caught off-guard, when I ask him about a potential partnership between Google Glass and Google TV. “There’s a lot of thought given to the integration of these different projects–integrating the tablet with the TV, say. And certainly, there’s probably a lot that we can do there [with Glass], but nothing I can talk to you about.”
Of course, there’s no doubt a partnership like this has been considered, regardless if anything concrete is planned. But during my visit to Google TV earlier this month–which you can read about in our profile of Queiroz and his team–Queiroz stressed countless times the importance of the second-screen experience to Google TV. “We believe that it’s important that we’re using a concept like this to solve a real user problem, as opposed to having another feature that we can check a box,” he told me. “It’s not just to be able to say, ‘Okay, here’s a second-screen experience.'”
Given the Google TV group’s main goal now is to streamline the user experience, perhaps Glass could serve as a replacement for the age-old remote control. Modern upgrades to the device seem to only add more and more buttons, and while tablets and smartphones could lead to novel experiences, thus far, they’ve been nothing but complicated and gimmicky (save for a few services like Peel, for example).
Google’s push toward voice-controlled navigation signals a future of hands-free interactivity. However, that future is weighed down by the clunky remote control, which is still required to use the service. Glass could make the experience truly hands-free, and perhaps, down the road, give viewers more of a compelling reason to awkwardly wear 3-D glasses in their living rooms.
Of course, this is all still very hypothetical. Google Glass is in its earliest phases of development–so any imagined partnership between Glass and Google TV is a bit too sci-fi at present, and likely wouldn’t come to fruition until years in the future, if ever. But imagine on-Glass TV guides; or social interactions done without opening the Twitter app on your iPhone; or changing the channel in the blink of an eye?
A couch potato can dream, right?
[Image: Flickr user Trey Ratcliff]